Back to the land of the living!

Hola, mes amis! (there’s a mix of languages!)

Here I am, generally feeling OK. And so I thought I should sign in to let you know how things are going. I’ll do an update on 40 Acts another time; today is just me. (How< self centred!!)

So on Tuesday I went to see a magnetiseur – the nearest translation I could find was hypnotherapist. But he didn’t really hypnotise me. He placed his hand on my stomach, my intestines, my throat: the idea being that these are the areas that would be worse affected by chemo, with nausea, stomach upsets etc. He then asked which side my “front door” was being fitted. I didn’t know but assumed it was the opposite side to the scars (I was in fact wrong) and he “drew” shapes on my upper chest with his fingers and blew on me. Bizarre. Well, I don’t know if what he did had any effect, but I have suffered from hardly any side effects. The “front door” has been a bit of a nuisance, as it is uncomfortable in bed, so maybe it would have been better if he’d blown on that side!!

Wednesday was the fitting of the “front door” (this is the permanent chamber fitted so that the chemo can be easily pumped into my blood stream) My appointment was at 7.00 so we had to get up at 5.30 (Yawn) Mr FD came with me, then, when I was being operated on, went & did the shopping. It was done under local so there was no waiting around afterwards and I was home by lunchtime. I dozed in the afternoon, mostly because I’d been up so early!!

On Thursday it was C-day. The day for my first chemo. I’d slept reasonably well the night before, & the taxi-ambulance picked me up at 8.00.There was a nerve wracking wait, as Dr Vincent (chemotherapist) was behind. But once he’d checked my ECG, my blood test and everything else I was cleared for commencement. Everybody – nurses, ancillary staff, other patients – were lovely and the day went quite quickly. I had a lunch of salad and meat, and chatted to a lovely lady who is an English/French/maths teacher called Charlotte. I was given a “soins des mains” – not exactly a manicure, but a gentle hand massage and dead skin removal. Mr FD popped in and we had a cup of tea together before he went for his interview…then at 4.00 my ambulance-taxi took me home. Whereupon I was like a zombie!!

I should have gone straight to bed, but I stayed up, lolling and sleeping on the sofa. Next time will be different! Then on Friday & Saturday I stayed in bed all day, mostly sleeping and listening to the radio, because my eyes didn’t want to be open! Mr FD looked after me beautifully, with just enough tempting morsels for me to eat. I felt no nausea, very slight stomach pains and that’s all! I got up on Saturday evening for a while. My biggest problem has been a bad back from staying in bed too long!!

Sunday I was out of bed and awake for most of the day – just lolling in a chair, listening to music, flicking through a magazine, watching TV – and then yesterday I got dressed too! We went across the road to see friends for about an hour – I wore a mask and gloves to avoid infection, especially as Monique has a cold. I’m still snoozing in the afternoon & actually, today, (at 11.10 CET) I feel very sleepy. But generally, this session of chemo has only affected me with tiredness. I know that others may be different, but I thank God (and the Magnetiseur!) for the relative ease of this. Mr FD has been a real star, keeping everywhere clean, clearing up after cats, encouraging me to eat, helping me do stuff I can’t manage alone.

The good news is that both my oncoloist and mt chemotherapist were perfectly positive about me going to Manchester next weekend AS LONG AS I take sensible precautions

  • wear a mask in crowds at all times
  • take my temperature regularly & if I have a fever go to A&E immediately (hmmm, with the NHS in crisis that could be tricky)
  • do not kiss or shake hands with anyone
  • wear gloves at all times
  • keep scrupulously clean – wash hands regularly (even when wearing gloves)
  • rest, rest, rest
  • listen to what my body is saying & don’t push it.

SO, hopefully, I will be going to the UK after all! Mr FD has booked us into the nearest carpark to the airport terminal, has investigated wheelchairs at the airport (as budget airlines are always furthest away!), reserveda car, and booked a hotel room less than a kilometre from the venue for Elbow. Fingers crossed that I can manage…and that I will be sensible enough to say “I can’t manage” if that is indeed the case.

Thank you to everyone for their prayers, good wishes, comments and gifts. They have been truly appreciated.

2018 40 Acts :: 6 :: Chocolate Tuesday

Hello dear ones.

I hope all is well in your world. We had a lovely meal out with Louis and Odette yesterday: I’m rather lucky, as Mr FD does quite a lot of sorting-out-of-other-peoples’-computers, and sometimes, instead of paying him in cash, they reimburse in kind, as it were. So last night Louis & Odette took us out, Traudel -who co-owns a restaurant with her Michelin starred husband – owes us a meal, the hotel round the corner also says that we can have a meal there…Thank you Mr FD!

So, last night I had feuilleté des escargots (snails in a lovely buttery sauce, in puff pastry), followed by magret de canard au miel et figues (duck breast with honey and figs). Then I had fromage frais, instead of ordinary cheese, then finally pannacotta with a raspberry coulis. Very delicious, and lovely to be out with good friends.

And now, it’s Chocolate Tuesday on 40 Acts.

Lots of people in the 40 Acts community seem to love “Chocolate Tuesday”, but I’ve never really taken to it. Maybe because I’d be a bit suspicious if I discovered random chocolate bars left on trains or park benches…There’s also the language barrier, trying to explain what I’m doing. Michelle left a comment saying: I’ve gotten the impression in reading about your 40 Acts over the years that the French are befuddled by “random acts of kindness.” Is a correction assumption? Is it totally absent from their culture or thinking?

To be honest, I don’t know! It could simply be that I am very poor at explaining what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it; also, I’m very shy about approaching strangers anyway, which makes it harder. Certainly when I look up gestes de bonté spontanés on Google,there’s nothing dated later than 2015 so maybe this isn’t a “thing” in France.

Anyway…

Giving away chocolate. Maybe it sounds a bit less radical than the last few days. But small, overlooked acts of generosity achieve big things. Today, take a bunch of chocolate bars with you wherever you go – five, ten, or twenty – and fling them, carefree, to anyone you come across.

Green, Amber, Red: You know the drill. Chocolate everywhere.

I have to go to the chemist today, to fetch my drugs for after chemo, so I will take them some chocolate. And I’m going to make some healthy meusli bars for me & Mr FD, full of dried fruit and seeds. I’ll make a few extra, and take them to the Hypnotherapist man this afternoon. A sort of thank you, as I get the feeling it was a bit inconvenient fitting me in today. Whether I’ll be able to explain why this strange Englishwoman is bringing him meusli bars I don’t know.

So, here in St Just, it’s not Chocolate Tuesday. It’s

Healthy Meusli Bar Tuesday!

2018 40 Acts :: 5 :: FAVOURITE

Hello dear ones!

So Week of Chemo commences! I am getting apprehensive, and my stress-related IBS has started to kick in, but other than that I’m fine. I went to see my friend Claire, who is the local district nurse, and she talked me through stuff. We made appointments for my weekly blood tests and generally helped me feel organised. She also persuaded me to go to see a magnétiseur – I’m not sure what the exact translation is, but I think it’s hypnotherapist. This man apparently has very good results at reducing side effects of chemo with his patients, so I’m hoping to make an appointment with him today. I don’t know how convinced I am, so maybe if I go as a sceptic it might not work, but quite honestly, I’m willing to give it a go!

I’ve booked my taxi/ambulance to take me to the hospital – Mr FD can’t take me as he has an interview for a job! It’s not really what he wanted, I don’t think (there was a job he applied for at the hospital that he quite fancied, but he’s not heard anything from them) but beggars can’t be choosers. Especially when it’s a CDI! He will however come in to see me when his interview is over. I need to make sure I’ve got a couple of podcasts downloaded onto my phone – I’ve purposely not listened to the last couple of Kermode & Mayo film reviews – plus a good book and some music. That should keep me occupied.

Anyway, let’s get on with 40 Acts:

FAVOURITE

You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God.”
(2 Corinthians 9:11–12 NET)

favourite flavor

The prompt reads:

What are your favourite things? Favourite film? Favourite coffee shop? A view where you go to be alone? Get ready to fly in the face of your impulses – and give those personal favourites away. Give away the novel. Pass on the scarf you think someone would look fantastic in. Share the introvert hang-out spot.

GREEN: Share a favourite. Think of a favourite book, film, piece of music, or recipe. It might seem small, but sharing your own enthusiasm is part of the fun.

AMBER: Share an experience. Think of a favourite walk, bike ride, or local hangout. Take a recipe you’ve loved cooking for years, and make it for someone else.

RED: Share sacrificially. Share a favourite restaurant, or tickets to your favourite artist/show/sports team with someone. Push past expectations and pick up the bill.

On a day when I’m not going anywhere (except we are being taken out for dinner) I’m not sure how to do this, except…except…there’s a niggly little voice (Hello, God)

You may remember (or not…) that I gave this book a rave review

You can read more about it here

I will send a copy to someone who comments on this page…If you’d like it, leave a comment and I will draw one of the names and organise a copy to be delivered to you. I’ll contact you in about a week if you’re the winner to get your address.

There you go! A favourite book, recommended and promised to someone.

JUST ADDING: It’s no good just “liking” the page. If you vwant to be entered into the Giveaway, I would like you to actually comment

You are my sunshine…

Ooh, look at me! I’ve been nominated for a “Sunshine Blogger” award, by Chomeuse with a Chou

Why, Thank you, Chomeuse!

The Sunshine Blogger award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivety and creativity in the blogging community.

RULES

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in your blog post and link back to the blog.

2. Answer 11 questions that the Blogger asked you.

3. Nominate 11 new bloggers to receive the awards and write them 11 questions.

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine blogger award logo in your post on your blog.

So, I’ve thanked Chomeuse, and I have linked to her blog. I have listed the rules and displayed the logo. Here are Chomeuse’s 11 questions and my (not very interesting) answers

  1. Why did you start your blog? I can’t really remember! It was way back in 2009, and I think I decided that I needed to try and use technology a bit more. I enjoy writing, so a blog seemed like a good idea. I had another one called Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner  where for quite some time I wrote my weekly menu plans andtried to be accountable for weight loss. It didn’t work.
  2. What are your favourite things to do (when you aren’t blogging, of course)? I enjoy reading, and zentangling too                        

We live in a beautiful part of the world, so while I don’t walk far or fast, I do enjoy a stroll. Drinking wine and eating with friends coimes high on the agenda too. And I’m lucky enough to love my work as an EFL teacher.

  1. If you could only visit one place, where would you go? I really don’t know! I suppose I should say the UK, as my family and friends are there!
  2. Do you have a favourite post from your blog? No, not really. Certain ones are poignant, remembering friends/cats who have died, others remind me of holidays, but none are a “favourite” really.
  3. What is your favourite book? (If it is far too difficult to choose, who is your favourite author?) Even choosing a favourite author is too hard! Among my favouritte authors are Philippa Gregory, Patrick Gale, Elizabeth George, Peter Robinson.
  4. What are your goals for your blog? Er…I don’t really have any! I’m a teeny bit envious of those bloggers who are sent things to review (freebies!), but I think what I enjoy most is making contact with people from across the world. So many people have been so genereous recently, over my cancer, that I have felt a little humbled. I’d love to meet some of these people some time!
  5. Which three possessions would you grab in the event of fire? I refuse to answer that because we have 4 cats. Therefore one of them will get rather anxious about being the one left behind!
  6. Do you live in the town or country where you were born? Neither the town (Liverpool) nor the country!
  7. Do you have any unusual phobias? I’m not sure it’s a phobia, per se, but grubby little scraps of paper make me retch, and I struggle to peel off the residue that stickers have left behind. I’m not afraid of them. They just make me feel queasy.
  8. Do you speak another language? Well, I can get by in French, but I don’t speak it well.
  9. If you could chat to any person in history (real or literary) who would you choose? I was going to say Jesus, but actually I suspect he might make me feel a bit uncomfortable, and ask some awkward questions! I’d like to speak to Judas Iscariot – I have never seen him as the “bad guy” and would really like to discuss his reasons for betraying Christ. I suspect that, for him, there was a good reason for doing it…Maybe he didn’t see it as betrayal, maybe he didn’t mean it to end how it did. Maybe he was as shocked as everyone else…But I don’t doubt that he will be in Heaven!

Somehow the numbering system went wrong, but honestly, I’ve answered all 11 questions.

Thinking of 11 other questions is hard, but I’ll give it a go:

  1. What is your most embarrassing/long abiding memory from childhood?
  2. What was the name of your first pet? What animal was it? Was there a reason for calling it that? (does that count as 3 questions?!)
  3. What did you detest at school?
  4. Who was your major “crush” when younger? (Or maybe now!)
  5. Is there a food that you hated when younger, but like now? Do you have a recipe to share?
  6. If you had to give up either your computer or your TV which would it be? Why?
  7. Share a favourite song/ band with us. (OK, so it’s not a question, but still…)
  8. Where did you spend a memorable holiday? Why was it so memorable?
  9. Where would you like to live, if it could be anywhere in the world?
  10. Do you enjoy poetry? Why/why not? Can you share a favourite poem with us?
  11. Do you have a quotation that you find particularly inspiring? Can you share it?

As for naming 11 other bloggers, that’s even harder, as several that I read don’t take part in things like this. However, here is a list of 11 blogs I enjoy reading, and maybe they’ll join in. If they don’t, I encourage you to visit them anyway, as they are a goo

  1. Ariel at “A Blog of Hours”
  2. Bob & Sophie at “Bob & Sophie’s French Adventure
  3. Amanda at “Chez le Reve Français
  4. All the cats and woofies at “Daily Feline Wisdom
  5. Kezzie at “KezzieAG
  6. Notes from A Broad” – I know this lady’s name, but I just can’t remember it!!
  7. Pompom at “PomPom’s Ponderings
  8. Fishcake Random at “The Frugal Handmade Home
  9. Ang at “Tracing Rainbows
  10. Michelle at “Boulderneigh
  11. Ilona at “Life After Money
  12. And a bonus one: Lou over at “The New Mrs M

These are not the only blogs I enjoy, but some have been nominated by Chomeuse already, and I had to choose just 11. These are a mix of content and so some might appeal more than others, but I urge you to visit any that are unfamiliar to you, so you can see if you like them too!

Of course, if you are reading this and would like to try answering my questions anyway, then please go ahead and do so! Please leave a comment though so I can visit you and read your answers!

Book Review: A Year of Marvellous Ways *****

This wasn’t sent free by Netgalley. I paid for this one on Amazon.

I’d read good reviews of this book, so decided to buy it. I’m very glad I did.

The blurb on Amazon reads: Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Lately she’s taken to spending her days sitting on a mooring stone by the river with a telescope. She’s waiting for something – she’s not sure what, but she’ll know it when she sees it. Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying man’s last wish sees him wash up in Marvellous’ creek, broken in body and spirit, the old woman comes to his aid. A Year of Marvellous Ways is a glorious, life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life and the pull of the sea, the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, love and death and how we carry on when grief comes snapping at our heels.

I think as a summary of the book, it’s good. What it doesn’t give you is any idea of the  poetry of the writing. It is truly beautiful. Every other page I would pause to roll a phrase, a sentence, sometimes a whole paragraph round in my mouth, saying the words aloud for the sheer pleasure of hearing them. Perhaps I noticed this because I was reading this straight after the rather pedestrian writing of “The Phantom’s Apprentice” but I loved this book for the author’s skill at manipulating language. Perhaps it was slightly too whimsical/ magical from time to time, but this didn’t detract from the beauty of the writing.

One thing I found a little difficult was the lack of speech marks, which meant that, at times, I wasn’t sure who was speaking, or if it was narrative, rather than dialogue. However, after a while, I became more accustomed to the style.

I would definitely recommend this book, giving it a solid five stars. *****

2018 40 Acts :: 4 :: After You

Hello Dear Ones

I hope all is well with you. I am coming to terms with the fact that I won’t be going to the UK – thank you for your sympathetic messages – but I haven’t quite come to terms with everything else around my treatment yet. This morning I went to the chemist to collect all the drugs. It is a carrier bag full! I’m going to spend some time today putting them in bags, and labelling each bag, in different colours. These are for nausea, these are for mouth ulcers…etc etc. I think by doing this, I’m taking charge, and not letting everything overwhelm me. But it is still a bit scary…

Anyway…

Yesterday’s challenge changed its form – I had considered leaving some euros at the coffee shop counter at the hospital, but I was worried about how to explain in French what I was doing. So finally, as I had to stop off to buy cat litter on the way to the hospital, I picked up two boxes of reduced stock chocolates, at a bargain price. I gave one to the woman at the admissions desk. In France, before going to one’s appointment, you have to go through the admissions process, where they check your details and give you any papers that you need. There are about 6 counters, and they process you fairly quickly, but I imagine it’s not a very exciting job. So when I was explaining to the young woman who was dealing with me what I was doing “Um…c’est pour Careme…Vous connaissez Careme?…J’essaie de faire des actions…um…de gentillesse…Um…Ici…j’ai acheté des chocolats pour vous et vos collegues…pour partager…Um…” She was a bit taken aback, but pleased nonetheless, as was her colleague who quickly wheeled her chair out of her cubicle to see what was going on (obviously needed a chocolate fix!)

After my ECG (they found I had a heart!) I dropped the other box off at the Receptionist desk – this is where people go if they have questions about where to go, and there’s usually a couple of elderly-ish volunteers hanging around to take you to the right department – The woman there was also rather touched too. In fact there was a moment or two’s open-mouthed staring before she said thank you.

I also continued my programme of leaving Ninja notes in various places – so the Cardio dept waiting room and toilet got hit, as did the lift, and another toilet area. They’ll know who’s doing this by tracking the appointments – Who was in cardio today, but in the oncology department yesterday?!

So, on to today.

Putting ourselves first comes incredibly easy to our culture – just think about a group of strangers jostling to get on a train. Today, we’re taking a firm 180 on that me-first tendency, and finding a couple of practical ways to put others first. Expect surprising results.

GREEN: Whether you live in a bustling city or somewhere more low-key, take the time to say ‘Good morning!’ to people you meet today, letting them go first through the door, or in the queue.

AMBER: At home or work, do someone’s chores before they do. Put them first by getting there first.

RED: Are you in a situation where your desires clash with someone else’s? Prioritise their wishes above your wishes, even (especially!) if they aren’t in line with yours. Budge on the stubbornness. Make the sacrifice.

You can read the full meditation (which I really liked) here

Well, here in France a cheery “Bonjour messiuers-dames” when you go in a shop is almost obligatory, but I did my best, on this dreary wet morning, to be extra jovial in the boulangerie today. Green challenge “Tick. V.G.”

But the Amber challenge made me squirm a little. You see, I have been rather milking this cancer business. I know that I can’t do lifting with my right arm – so ironing, lifting shopping, moving cat litter trays are all things I can’t do, and have to leave to Mr FD, who has done all these things without complaint. I know that once chemo starts, and my immune system is shot, I certainly can’t be touching cat litter, or doing dirty jobs. I know that when I’m feeling fatigued there’ll be lots I can’t do.

But at the moment…well, I have rather been leaving jobs that I could do, knowing that Mr FD is being so good with doing stuff around the house, and thinking “Well, I’m sure he will do them eventually…” Cleaning the bathroom being one of those jobs. No heavy lifting required, my immune system is fine: there’s actually no reason why I shouldn’t do it. So today, I will heave on my Big Girl Pants and clean the bathroom so that Mr FD doesn’t have to do it.

As for the Red challenge – well, I think that one needs to be an on-going one. There’s nothing really at the moment that springs to mind, but it may be that God is storing this one up for me. As he does.

2018 40 Acts :: 3 :: DEAL (& Disappontment)

Hello dear ones!

Yesterday’s meeting with my designated nurse, Sonia, was more than a little overwhelming! So much information that it requires a large folder to contain it all – which will be great for my teaching notes when all this is over! – including myriad prescriptions, information, and things to make me panic. Everything seems so complicated at the moment, with blood tests being needed every week, and injections and loads of other stuff that needs organising. I need to sit down with the folder and a calendar and write down what drugs need taking when…These are necessary, these are if this happens, these are if that happens…

The biggest disappointment is that it is looking unlikely that I’ll be able to go to the UK when we had planned. Before all this kicked off, we’d booked to go to Manchester & Liverpool, to see my mum, and we had tickets to see Bill Bailey on Saturday evening, and Elbow on Sunday evening. With the date of the chemo we thought I’d be recovered enough from nausea etc to get to the UK. However, Sonia erxplained that, although the physical symptoms of nausea might be better, a week after the chemo session is when one’s immunity is at its lowest, so going on an aeroplane, with all its recycled air, then going to places where there are crowds of people, all with their own particular microbes really might not be the best idea. We’ll check with the doctor on Thursday, before my first session, but it looks like Mr FD will be going by himself. My brother is also going to Bill Bailey, and we hope that we can find someone else who would like to go, both to the comedy and to the Elbow concert. Ah well.

ANYWAY: I managed to leave a few Ninja Notes around the hospital, (and the supermarket, as we went shopping too) and as I’m back there today, I’ll leave some more.

Here is today’s challenge:

DEAL

Any deal you come across today – go ahead and hand it to someone else. We’re not just talking old BOGOF-type deals: even if it’s just a bottled drink with 25% extra, go and give the whole bottle away. Whatever’s freely given to you, share it with someone else. It’s just a picture showing that everything God’s given you is yours to give on.

GREEN: If money’s tight, check around the house. Got two copies of the same book? Chairs you don’t need? Some extra biscuits? Upload a pic to your social networks and offer to give it away (and throw in the hashtag #40acts).

AMBER: Got a loyalty card? Give your carefully collected points away to someone else. Or use them to buy someone something nice to give away. (If I’d known, I could have used my Yves Rocher loyalty points, but I used them up yesterday!)

RED: Boost a local business. Put some cash behind the till at your local coffee shop or café.

Here’s the full meditation

I’m not sure about how I will carry this out – Money is a bit tight here in Dormouse Towers, but I think I can run to spending something…Maybe I will give 10€ to the hospital coffee shop to pay for some people’s coffee…I fear I will struggle to explain what I’m doing to the person behind the counter, and that they may think I am a bit odd, but I can try. I suppose I start to get a bit suspicious that the person behind the counter might pocket the 10€ for themselves, which isn’t very trusting of me, but I guess that, if they do that, then they need the money. If I pray that God will bless the recipient, then he will do so – whether they have received by fair means or foul!

Part of the meditation reads:

Something special happens when we are generous with what we’re given. Being irredeemably Anglican, my friend calls generous gifts, large or small, “sacraments of the heart”.

We both agreed that there is something compelling and transformative about such generosity. Like the young boy who entrusted his bread and fish to Jesus: what else was shared, what else happened in heart and hand that day? In that wonderful story we are told that Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave bread to his disciples – and they in turn gave to a hungry people what they had received. What was given to them.

So, if my suspicious thoughts turn out to be true, maybe still there will be something “transformative” about what I do.

2018 40 ACTS :: 2 :: ANON

Old Grumpy Pants is back!

I think that this period of waiting – waiting for all the appointments, waiting for the chemo, waiting for the effects of the chemo (& probably/ possibly the anticipation and imagining is worse than the reality will be!) – is getting to me. Even though I have tried to keep myself occupied, I am getting grumpier and more depressed (though not in a “black dog” sort of way. I don’t want to measure my “down” against clinical depression ion any way) so, in a way, I’m glad that today things are getting moving.

I have an appointment with my “designated nurse” – she will give me my prescriptions for a wig, and for ambulance transport; she will explain procedures more, and, I assume, give advice where needed. Mr FD is taking me out to lunch in the “English bakery” that we tried to go to a couple of weeks back and we will do the week’s shopping too. Well…it gets me out of the house!

Yesterday grumpiness really did get the better of me, so I decided that it would be A Good Thing to do something for others. So I put Rend Collective onto Spotify, rather more loudly than I would have done had Mr FD been in the house, and I prepared some more “Ninja Notes”. How apposite! Look at today’s Challenge…

ANON

The most thrilling type of generosity is done when no one’s looking. When there’s no one to impress. So: give in secret. Act in the shadows. Leave anonymously before you’re noticed. And if you’ve struggled with generosity in the past, give this sort of anonymous giving a go – see if a switch goes on for you.

GREEN: This could be a tricky act if you can’t keep a secret! Leave something anonymously for someone you know: a coffee on a desk, an encouraging letter taped to a car, a box of pastries left in the shared kitchen.

AMBER: Think differently: tape some change to a car park machine. Or the office vending machine. Or, wheel all your street’s bins back after the lorry’s been. Three key words for this act: creative, helpful – and stealthy.

RED: Leave something anonymously for someone you don’t know. This is your chance to do something you’d never do otherwise. You could jump onto a random wedding gift list, or pay for someone’s petrol before they make it into the shop.

You can read the meditation here as it speaks of some of the anonymous acts that people have done in the past.

Well, I think that this obviously calls for Ninja Notes to be left around the hospital today…

Some of them have verses from the Bible on them, some of them just have encouraging quotations. Here are some of today’s selection:

.

They will be left in toilets (!) or on chairs, in lifts or in corridors…I will trust God that the right person will find them.

2018 40Acts :: 1:: TARGET

Usually I am all afire for 40 Acts, but this year I am heading into it with a real Grumpy Cat-titude. No. Don’t want to. Why should I? Got my own problems this year.

Well, I think that today’s meditation sums that up for me.

Why should I?

Because in the most extraordinary act of generosity the world will ever know, God offered His son, Jesus, as a gift to all. We need only say thank you.  For some the response is too difficult; for others, too easy. But it’s a gift that requires no exchange.

40acts 2018 takes its inspiration from the book of James and the inextricable connection between faith and deeds. While it’s clear that we cannot earn our salvation or win God’s approval by our own actions, James sets out a framework for the kind of practical day-to-day living that springs from hearing God’s word, obeying it and acting on it.

So for the next 40 days will you join us as we sacrifice something we love? Our pride, privacy, time, reputation, treasure. Will you take a risk and be a radical expression of faith reaching out in love? Who can you target today?

We need only say Thank You.

 

The challenges today are:

GREEN: Draw a target (like a bullseye). At the centre, write ‘God’, then in each ring, working outwards, write who you have in your social circles, family, friends, and work networks. Who will you target with generosity?

AMBER: If you’ve done today’s green challenge and want to go further – find a 40acts buddy. Someone to check in with over the next few weeks, both asking how your acts are going and if the other needs help.

RED: Done both green and amber, and itching to get started with 40acts? Do something today for one of the people in your target.

In my present grumpiness I’m thinking Bah! I don’t know who I’ll target…It depends on the daily challenge…Which it does, to an extent.So it is hard to focus on who I will target, but I am thinking that this year is going to be different for me.

Those who read this blog regularly will know, but those who may have come over from the 40 Acts FB page won’t: I am undegoing treatment for breast cancer. It’s not A Big Thing. The tumour was removed, but because the doctors found some cancerous cells in the Sentinel lymph node, there is the possibility that some have escaped into my lymphatic system. Therefore, I have to undergo 6 sessions of chemo, over 18 weeks. That’s going to take me way beyond the scope of Lent, but I’m thinking I may try to focus my generosity, my acts, on those other women who will be going through chemo at the same hospital, the medical staff, and other people in the hospital – the ancillary staff, the people on the welcome desk, the administration team.

I’m not sure quite how I’ll do it, as it will depend on the tasks, but I will try. My celebrated Ninja Notes – encouraging Bible verses or quotations written on cards and left in random places – will no doubt feature heavily

But I will wait to see how God inspires me.

I think too my other target should be Mr FD – not because 40 Acts is telling me to, but because, as my nearest-and-dearest, he so often gets the brunt of my bad temperedness. So when I’m feeling at my most down, I hope I will be still able to not take it out on him. Mr FD, I love you dearly.

As for the Amber challenge, well, I’d like to think that you, my Dear Ones, my readers, are my 40 Acts buddies. I will be trying to blog most days, (although there are going to be chemo days when it becomes harder) and I would love it if you commented/ challenged me/ asked me questions/ keep me accountable, and on the straight-and-narrow.

So, off we go!

A blast from the Past

Back in the day when I was using the Wibsite to host my blog, (You can read some of the posts in the sections “Dregs from the Teapot” on the header) I was having some temporary difficulties, and so I created another site called “A temporary View”…The address for this seems to be the default setting for links to my signature when I make comments, so I’m trying to lose this very short blog. However, I don’t want to lose the one interesting post that I made on that very temporary blog (in reality, it only lasted for a month) so here it is.

“OUR TIME IN THE SOUTH” 26/05/2013

Here’s a report about our lovely holiday spent near Mont Ventoux. Warning: long and picture heavy!

We left St Just on Saturday morning and the drive down was horrid. It rained all the way, and lashed it down for part of the way. We had hoped to get to the Chambres d’Hotes in time for lunch but had come off the motorway a couple of junctions early due to the traffic, the stop-start nature of the flow and the weather. We stopped in Vaison-le-Romain for a salad in a Pizzeria: we could have explored the Medieval town…but between the car park and the Pizzeria (first restaurant that we found that was open!) we got fairly wet.

We both chose the Salade Gourmande, which included smoked duck breast, chicken livers and foie gras. Very enjoyable. As usual, I forgot to take a photo of the meal, but here’s a photo of the restaurant

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We got to the Chambres d’Hotes a little later, and met up with Louis and Odette. We chatted and  Louis and Mr FD talked plans for taking on the Ventoux.  After the arrival of Laurent, their son, everyone watched the Heineken cup final between Clermont and Toulouse (our lot were disappointed when Clermont lost. Unlike Sarah at Le Petit Village!) Then we went into Bédouin, the nearest town, for a very enjoyable meal. I chose a goats’ cheese/tomato combo, followed by pintade with a black olive sauce and strawberries for dessert. No photo!

Sunday:
Odette decided to try to learn one word in English a day. So: Odette’s Word of the day: poppy (coquilicot in French)

Odette and I went to the wonderful (but admittedly fairly tourist-orientated) market at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which is a beautiful little town, where the River Sorgue runs through the centre in various little canals and tributaries.

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There are water wheels galore, which were used in earlier days to provide power to various industries. Now they are just picturesque reminders of the past. I did buy a few bits – mostly to eat or drink (including a ginger sirop, which will, I’m sure, be used in my white chocolate & ginger cheesecake!)

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We got back quite late, but the Boys – who had been out on a fairly long ride “to loosen the legs” – had cooked lunch. We ate at about 3.00 and I thought that was our meal for the day, so I ate plenty. I suspect you can work out that it wasn’t our meal for the day…No, we went to another restaurant later on! Before that Mr FD and I went for a short walk around the Chambres d’Hotes – the weather was closing in, and there were thunderstorms around.

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The vineyards were claggy with mud, and  our boots ended up feeling like lead boots from the amount of mud clinging onto them! The vines weren’t as far along as they should be this time of year – the rain & lack of sun has had an effect on all the fruit trees in the area.

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“Attention: Bird’s nest. Please don’t put anything in this letter-box”

We went out for dinner to a lovely restaurant, recommended by Monique, the owner of the Chambres d’Hotes. Unfortunately it was only set menus, so despite my huge lunch, I managed to eat another 3 courses – asparagus tart, bruschetta of red mullet with poischichade – chickpea purée – and then a rather odd dessert of sweet ravioli stuffed with apricots, served with creme anglaise. The things I do…!

Monday:

Odette’s Word of the day: vineyard  (vignoble in French)

This was Mont Ventoux day! (SFX: dramatic music!)

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Odette was going on a less strenuous ride, the Boys were climbing Ventoux, and I was Official Bread Buyer and Photographer. So the cyclists set off

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while I get on with the important task of ingratiating myself with one of the Chambre d’Hote’s cats

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going around the market, buying bread and generally doing nice things

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until suddenly I realised that, if I didn’t get a wiggle on, they’d be up the summit of Ventoux before I got there! It was a bit hairy driving up, as there must have been hundreds of cyclists going up. There was some kind of event, as there were scores of Netherlanders all in the same cycle kit cycling up, followed by their own private ambumance, plus with several refreshment stops and dedicated encouragers en route. There were also scores of other riders, some wobbling all over the road in exhaustion. Added to this a group of motor cyclists who wanted to overtake me on the winding route, you can imagine that it wasn’t much fun. I caught Louis and Mr FD up not much more than a kilometre from the summit (phew!) and so was able to snap our Brave Heroes in full cycling mode

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And, yes, that is snow behind them – it was 3° at the top. And there I was in my summery plimsolls!

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Here they are at the top. Mr FD grinning (“I’ve just cycled up here!”) with triumph. I do have to say how very proud I was of him! Well done Boys! Laurent isn’t there because (fit young thing that he is) he had got to the summit earlier, and had cycled down the other side so that he could turn round and do it all again. Mad. The two of them then zoomed off downhill, while I took it more slowly (stuck behind the Netherlander’s ambulance, which stopped next to anyone from their team who seemed to be struggling to check they were okay. And to have a long conversation. Sigh) I also stopped at the Tom Simpson memorial

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This is what my cyclist Mr FD climbed:

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The white isn’t snow (although you can see a line of it at the side of the road) it is white pebbles – nothing grows up there: too bloody windy!

We ate a hearty lunch – but I’d wised up to this, and only had bread and salad and cheese. The cyclists had fully deserved their guacamole, rice and tomato-olive sauce, but I didn’t feel I merited the calories! In the afternoon, there was a general air of langour so I went out for a walk, while Mr FD lolled on the bed snoozing and reading. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t warm enough to go in the pool…

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By the time I got back (slightly sore feet) and had a beer, Gilles and Sylvie had arrived, Gilles full of what he was going to climb (despite being fearfully out of training). Sylvie patiently raised eyes heavenward and kept schtum. Heading out that evening to the restaurant, the conversation was full of joshing and discussion, in rather-too-rapid French for me to keep up. But it was fun

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This evening, I had a sort of tuna mousse (Flan de thon aux capres), and then a pork dish (Sauté de porcelette aux artichauts) with strawberry crumble for dessert (Crumble de fraises aux pistaches) Again, all very delicious – and very good value at 16€ (£13,50) for the meal.

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I forgot to take a photo of the meal – but here’s the bread basket!

TUESDAY:

Odette’s Words of the day: artichoke  (artichaud in French) AND – feeling brave! – asparagus (asperge in French)

Everybody went out cycling (though not Ventoux today – Gilles needs to get some kilometres in his legs first!) while Sylvie and I went out for the day, to visit Fontaine-de-Vaucluse which is the source of the River Sorgue. Last time Mr FD and I were here it was the height of summer and the river was a mere trickle, with the source just a big hole with a puddle at the bottom. This time…

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…it was a bit more than a puddle…

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…and definitely more than a trickle!

We had lunch overlooking the waterwheel – omelette and salad (and chips!) – and then took the scenic route back, through Gordes, Murs, and the beautiful gorges.

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After a coffee back at the Chambres d’Hotes, we all went to Vaison la Romaine again, where we split up. Gilles, Louis and Laurent to find a bar, Sylvie and Odette to tour the shops and Mr FD and I to visit the Medieval town which we’d missed out on at the beginning.

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Mr FD took this picture, and then decided to wait for those people to go so he could take another..but they just stayed, and stayed, and stayed. In the end we gave up, and carried on up the hill. We were tempted to loiter in the gateway and spoil their next picture, but in the end we were kind!

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Photo of (Hey-I-climbed-that!) Mont Ventoux from the Chateau.

If you read my other blog, you might know that I recently won a beautiful bag in a giveaway. I took it away with me, and here I am, modelling Vicki’s gift around the Roman remains at Vaison-la-Romaine

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We found an ice cream (coconut and melon for me; cookies-and-cream and coconut for Mr FD) and then headed back to meet up. Then back to another restaurant in Bédouin for dinner. It was another lovely meal : piperade à la Provençal, beef in shallot sauce and then strawberry dessert:

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WEDNESDAY:

Odette’s Word of the day: Goodbye  (au revoir in French)

Mr FD and I were leaving today – I was working on Thursday – so, although he was a little tempted, he didn’t go cycling in the morning. Especially as the Mistral was doing its bit and blowing a gale! Instead we meandered towards L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, stopping to take a few photos at Suzette

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Arty shot of (Hey-I-climbed-that) Mont Ventoux

Another pause to buy wine at the co-operative at Beaumes-de-Venise, a stroll around the breezy streets of L’I-s-l-S and one more meal: mousse aux tomates aux basilic, magret de canard with honey (mmmm!) and then faiselle (a type of creamy cheese) with a raspberry coulis. Then we were off home, pausing at Ikea in St Etienne to buy a toilet seat. Oh! the glamour!!

And there you have it! Our lovely few days in the South.